Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

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God Forces no one to Love Him

2Kings 17:1-41

Let\'s begin this study by looking back. God first approached Abram and promised him a nation would be born from his seed. That nation had its gestation period as guests then slaves in Egypt. God rescued His people by a strong hand and married them in the wilderness at Mt. Sinai. As they wandered in the wilderness, God promised His people a land \"flowing with milk and honey.\" But God warned them that there was a reason He was giving this land to them-that the people who occupied it had sinned greatly. Although God had given them hundreds of years to repent from their horrible practices, like burning their children alive, they refused. So God was going to thrust them out miraculously by the hand of the children of Israel.

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But in preparation for that battle, God had a warning for His people.

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Leviticus 18:24-30 \"Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, 25 and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you 27 (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), 28 lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29 For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them:? I am the Lord your God.\"

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Israel failed in two ways. 1) They did not fully thrust the people of the land out. 2) They did exactly what Moses (and later Joshua in Joshua 23:4-13) warned them about-they intermarried with them, longed for their gods, and worshipped them.

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Joshua 23:13 but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you.

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For the northern 10 tribes, that time has come. Tonight we see a summation of all that Israel did to provoke the Lord, as they walked and later ran as fast as they could from Him. Finally, after generations, God finally punishes them exactly as he said He would, by thrusting them from the land, never to return.

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1 - 6

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Hoshea had assassinated Pekah and had taken the throne in Israel. Hoshea had promised the new king in Assyria, Shalmaneser, that he\'d be a loyal vassal and pay tribute. But in secret he made a deal with Egypt. Isaiah 31:1 says \"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help.\" Trying to solve problems by the world\'s methods did work then and it won\'t work now. In 725 Shalmaneser discovered the plot, and besieged Samaria. In 722BC, his successor, Sargon II, captured Samariah and Israel as a nation was no more. The Assyrians had already taken the tribes east of the Jordan, now it was Israel\'s turn. The only tribe left was Judah (and Benjamin, but they were essentially a part of Judah by this time.)

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Sargon deported 27,290 (his claim) of the Israelites to Assyria. It\'s unclear whether these were just men, or just from Samaria. It was Assyrian policy to relocate people from their conquered land. The people were taken to an area that dumps into the Euphrates in modern day Iraq, though there is some question about the exact location.

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What follows is a recitation as to why God did this.

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7 - 13

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8 - They feared other gods, and followed their leaders away from Yaweh. It\'s is and has always been about a relationship. They rejected God, so he disciplined them.

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9 - 12 They feigned worship of God, while running after every god but Yahweh. The first sentence could read \"they concealed words that were not so concerning the Lord their God.\" The idolatry is detailed: churches for other gods - namely Baal and Ashera. Look at the words: they \"built\" these relationships, \"made offerings\" to the gods, \"served\" them, and ended up doing \"wicked things.\"

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Notice too how many times it says \"they built for themselves\" or \"They set up for themselves.\" In reality, idolatry is nothing more than self worship. You put anything other than God on the throne of your life, (including yourself) and you are worshipping in idol.

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13 - God did not just discipline them without adequate warning. \"Every prophet and every seer\" brought the same message: \"your relationship with Yahweh and your faithfulness to your marriage vows are the most important thing in your life.\" God speaks to us through His Word, telling us that he loves us and wants to give us all good things (Romans 8). No one will be able to stand before God and claim they just didn\'t know (Romans 1).

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14 - 18

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Verse 14 is really the key. \"They would not believe in the Lord their God.\" Unbelief must be maintained. We do it by not listening to God\'s voice, or God\'s word.

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They end up hating the very God who rescued them.

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It reminds me of what Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:

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John 3:16-21 \"For? God so loved? the world,? that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not? perish but have eternal life.? 17 For? God did not send his Son into the world? to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.? 18? Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not? believed in the name of the only Son of God.? 19? And this is the judgment:? the light has come into the world, and? people loved the darkness rather than the light because? their deeds were evil.? 20? For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light,? lest his deeds should be exposed.? 21 But whoever? does what is true? comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.\"

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Look at the verbs used then to describe the actions of those who hated the statutes of God:

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15 - \"went after false idols and became false\"

16 - \"abandoned all the commandments of the Lord\"

17 - \"sold themselves to do evil\"

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They \"provoked\" God to anger and to action. It might start with being enamored with the world, and ignoring your relationship with God. To justify what you are doing you stop listening to God, going after what is false - you believe the false to be true, eventually running away from God and being sold into slavery to sin. But Israel wasn\'t the only one at fault here.

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19 - 23

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Judah was plundered and would also be yanked out of the land due to their similar rejection of Yahweh. The only difference was not the behavior of the people but the promise of God to David that the Messiah would come through his line.

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24 - 28

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The repopulation practice of the Assyrians worked both ways. Assyria took Israelites out and put in people from Babylonia and Aramea. Perhaps because of the war leaving many dead bodies around, or because God would not be left without a witness, lions roamed the land, killing many. The people were correct in sensing this was something spiritual, though they could not conceive of the real God they should be fearing. The Assyrian king sent them a priest of the Jeroboam cult, so they got a religion mixed up to start with after two centuries of making things up.

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29 - 33

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Once the crisis of the lions had passed, the people went about importing all the false gods they had worshiped. When the gospel is preached, lives change forever. When a milk-toast, watered down, incorrect version of God is taught, it has no lasting impact and the people will go back to whatever they were comfortable with before.

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34 - 41

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The resulting religion of the Samaritans is what we call \"syncretistic\". I call it \"pot luck religion.\" You pick a little bit from whatever beliefs look good to you, put it all on your plate and dig in. But the author makes it clear this was not true faith. Today syncretism is rampant. In fact, our post modern society prides itself by the belief that each person holds a piece of the truth. When people gather the truth changes based on each person\'s piece.

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The idea of ultimate truth actually goes against our selfish nature. To acknowledge the sovereignty of God and the truth of God\'s Word means we lack something that only God has. Human worship of self rebels against that.

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Conclusions

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God wanted a relationship with His people. He clearly showed the difference between a person (and a nation) in relationship and without. God warned His people of the consequences of shirking a relationship. They chose not to listen and to walk away.

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God never forces anyone to love him. Those who want nothing to do with Him, He will have nothing to do with. In the end you get what you want.

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God is loving, God is honest, God is forgiving, God is patient-but not forever because God is also holy and at some point his patience runs out.

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We began by looking back at Israel\'s history. Now let\'s look forward to see this same character in action at the end of the age in 2 Peter 3:1-18.

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